November 29, 2017

Robert Downey Jr. Dishes on the Design Vision of Joe Nahem

In the dining room of an oceanfront family home, Joe Nahem hung a Walton Ford painting over one end of a custom table by Mira Nakashima, George Nakashima’s daughter. Photography by Peter Murdock.

Collaborating with mentor Joe D’Urso on the Interior Design Hall of Fame member’s own home in East Hampton might be the highlight of any designer’s career. And perhaps it is for Fox-Nahem Associate’s Joe Nahem, but Anthony Iannacci’s new monograph Fox-Nahem: The Design Vision of Joe Nahem includes a forward by another prominent client—Robert Downey Jr. And it’s effusive: “Mrs. Downey and I have enjoyed a remarkable collaboration with the entire Fox- Nahem team. We’ve been pushed out of our “comfort zone” without losing our personal sense of style, taste, or dignity,” Downey Jr. writes.

In the East Hampton home of Interior Design Hall of Fame member Joe D’Urso, Nahem situated the master bedroom, featuring an Oscar Niemeyer lounge chair, next to a lily pond. Photography by Eric Piasecki/OTTO.

Nahem launched his firm more than 30 years ago with his late business partner Tom Fox. Now with a staff of 10, Nahem collaborates with a slew of other Hall of Famers, including Charles Gwathmey, Steven Harris, Richard Meier, Anabelle Selldorf, and Robert A.M. Stern. The just-released book features a selection of 15 of his projects, from townhouses and penthouses to weekend retreats. Nahem’s residential work spans the country, in locales including Martha’s Vineyard, Greenwich, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Key West, Miami, Palm Beach, and Aspen. “Decorating is intimate and personal,” Nahem says. “As a designer, you must be able to let go of your ego and design a personalized space that reflects the people who live there.

For his part, Downey Jr. couldn’t agree more with Nahem’s assessment. “Joe is almost always right in his design decisions without being unreasonable or smarmy,” he adds. “It’s been an education to say the least.”

At a Long Island weekend retreat, Nahem custom-designed the sofa on a walnut platform beneath a cork-clad wall. Photography: Peter Murdock.

A Chelsea penthouse features a black walnut George Nakashima chair from the 1950’s. Photography by Peter Murdock.

Nahem installed furniture by Janus et Cie and Kenneth Cobonpue, and a stainless-steel spa by Diamond Spas, on the terrace of a penthouse on the top two floors of New York’s Puck Building. Photography by Peter Murdock.

The oceanfront home’s great room. Photography by Peter Murdock.

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